Although still a preliminary concept, main power utility PPC’s intended regional expansion into the Balkans with the backing of Chinese capital, which could be provided by CMEC, the Greek utility’s new partner for possible construction of a power station in northern Greece, or another Chinese firm, represents a one-way road towards survival for the utility.
PPC plans to attempt entering the Albanian electricity market and, if successful, then also try and move into the electricity markets of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Fyrom) and Kosovo.
PPC’s leadership, along with the heads at Greece’s energy and economy ministries, have held a series of meetings with Albanian officials in recent months, generating enough interest for the Greek utility to decide, earlier this week, to establish a subsidiary in the neighboring country. Equivalent exploratory steps have yet to be taken in Fyrom and Kosovo.
“Collaborations with a foreign partner for penetration of Balkan markets constitute more than just a strategic choice if PPC wants to compensate for the planned [bailout-required] market share reductions in Greece’s production and retail sectors over the next few years,” a government official who had joined Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on an official visit to China in July told energypress.
In this sense, CMEC as well as other Chinese companies, officials of which have held talks with PPC’s boss Manolis Panagiotakis, will play a crucial role in helping the Greek utility succeed in its Balkans expansion plan.
Previous efforts, beginning in 2003, failed to produce any results. PPC had begun by exploring the market prospects in Romania and followed up with other Balkan countries, all to no avail.
The failure of PPC’s previous Balkan quest has been attributed to politically motivated ties established by respective Balkan governments for collaboration with more powerful western partners, as well as misjudgements made by previous PPC administrations.
It remains to be seen whether PPC will be able to break the Balkan deadlock with a Chinese partner. PPC will definitely need to draw capital for international business activities if the corporation is to remain afloat in the next few years.
While commenting on yesterday’s signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with CMEC for joint development of Meliti II, a second coal-fired power station in Meliti, northern Greece, Panagiotakis, PPC’s chief executive, did not refrain from placing enormous importance on the utility’s successful entry into the Balkan region.
Actualization and success of PPC’s Meliti power station plan will be pivotal to any future Greek-Chinese collaboration beyond the Greek borders.